|How Bruins overcame uncharacteristically bad nights from Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara||10.21.14 at 11:51 pm ET|
Usually the Patrice Bergeron line and Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton pairing are the Bruins’ constants. They’re the guys who are going to create offensive-zone possessions and not make mistakes.
That wasn’t the case on Tuesday. Bergeron was on the ice for all three of the Sharks’ goals, linemates Brad Marchand and Reilly Smith joined him for two of them (it is worth noting that Marchand had a nice power-play goal), and Chara was on the ice for two of them as well. Those four and Hamilton were the only Bruins who finished with Corsi-for percentages under 50 percent, meaning they were the only Bruins who were on the ice for more 5-on-5 shot attempts against than shot attempts for.
That would seemingly be a recipe for disaster for the Bruins, especially when you consider that outside of the Carl Soderberg line, the rest of the team had been one giant question mark to this point in the season. David Krejci had looked good since his return, but linemate Milan Lucic was off to a slow start and he still didn’t have a set-in-stone right wing. The fourth line had featured several different combinations, and none of them had really done much. And the second and third defense pairings had been inconsistent at best, with Kevan Miller’s injury raising even more questions on the back end.
At least for one night, those questions turned into answers. Lucic, Krejci and rookie right wing Seth Griffith factored into four of the Bruins’ five goals, with Lucic notching three assists and Griffith scoring his first NHL goal. Two of the goals they were on the ice for — Griffith’s and Torey Krug’s — came as the direct result of getting bodies to the net. Krejci set a great screen on Krug’s, and then Lucic created some net-front havoc that freed up Griffith on his goal.
“I think it definitely was the best game that we’ve played so far this season,” Lucic said. “You saw we were hungry in the O-zone and hungry getting pucks to the net. We made some smart decisions in some important areas and it just seems like things are starting to head in the right direction.”
The fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Simon Gagne was a positive possession line that even created some chances against the Sharks’ top two lines. They scored what proved to be the game-winner midway through the third when Paille won the puck along the boards and threw a shot on net that Campbell tipped in for his first goal of the season.
Campbell and Paille were also big on the penalty kill, especially late in the game when Bergeron went to the box for a four-minute double minor. Until Krejci’s empty-netter to seal the win, Campbell had the biggest play on that kill when he blocked a Joe Thornton shot that came off a Chara turnover.
“We’ve got to be a responsible, reliable line, and Claude [Julien] has to trust us to put us in those situations,” Campbell said. “With hard work comes trust, and if we’re playing our game and we’re in on the forecheck and creating chances and bringing energy to the lineup, then he usually has confidence in us.”
As for the bottom two defense pairings, the only glaring error was a bad miscommunication between Krug and Dennis Seidenberg that led to a goal, but as Julien pointed out after the game, Bergeron’s line was just as much at fault, as Smith had failed to clear the zone and Bergeron and Marchand had gotten caught up ice.
Outside of that, the Seidenberg-Krug and Matt Bartkowski-Adam McQuaid pairings played well. Krug’s goal and two assists obviously stand out, but let’s not overlook the fact that Seidenberg had seven shots on goal and 12 shot attempts, and that he and Krug had Corsi-for percentages of 63 and 62 percent, respectively. McQuaid and Bartkowski weren’t far behind at 61 and 57 percent, respectively, and McQuaid was also big on that final penalty kill.
Obviously this is just one game. No one should think that all of the Bruins’ question marks are gone and that everyone’s going to be great from here on. But on a night when the Bruins’ best players were uncharacteristically unreliable, it was encouraging to see everyone else step up and show that they can lead the way, too.
|Milan Lucic hopes he’s getting back to normal||at 1:48 pm ET|
Inappropriate gestures aside, it’s been a weird start to the season for Milan Lucic.
The Bruins’ top left wing has had two different centers and three different right wings over seven games. In three of the first seven games, he’s played on a line that was different from the previous game. He’s also returning from offseason wrist surgery, which looks to be limiting him less and less as the games go on.
Still, numbers don’t lie. Lucic, traditionally a fast starter, has gone without a point in all but one game this season. He has no goals, with his two-point performance last week against the Canadiens remaining the only time he’s shown up on the scoresheet.
It appears that Seth Griffith will serve as Lucic and David Krejci‘s right wing Tuesday against the Sharks. The line had some good looks for three games before Griffith was replaced with Simon Gagne Saturday. Lucic feels that he can still find his way and the back of the net despite the revolving door on the right side of his line.
“I think the guys who have come in have played well,” Lucic said. “You look at the last three games, we were able to create a bunch of chances, but it seems like they’re just not going in for us right now. I don’t think overthinking anything or getting frustrated is going to get us anywhere. I think we’ve just got to keep playing in the O zone and creating chances and eventually they’ll start going in.”
As for the wrist, Lucic says it’s become less of a mental obstacle than it was earlier in the season, when he was a borderline invisible player on a borderline invisible line with Ryan Spooner and Matt Fraser.
Now, with more games under his belt, Lucic doesn’t see the wrist as being an issue. All that’s left for him is to start finding the back of the net.
“[The wrist is] definitely getting a lot better, thinking about it a lot less, as far as re-injuring it again,” he said. “From a mental standpoint, it’s definitely becoming more positive.”
When asked Tuesday morning if Lucic was close to being the player he is when he’s at the top of his game, Claude Julien hinted at the obvious by saying people have seen him play long enough to know “how good he can be.” He doesn’t seem ready to use the roster uncertainty as an excuse for Lucic’s start.
“It’s up to each individual to play to their level. I’ve always said that,” Julien said. “It doesn’t matter who you play with, we rate players on their play — their sole play – and it doesn’t matter who you’re with; we still expect certain things.
“He’s come off an injury, he’s missed a little bit of the conditioning before camp started. He wasn’t able to play for a little while. What I like right now is he’s starting to come around and that’s the most important thing. I’m not going to dwell on the past more than’I like what I see he’s getting better all the time so he’s got to continue to improve.”
|Milan Lucic apologizes for ‘embarrassing’ Bruins vs. Canadiens||10.18.14 at 1:13 pm ET|
Milan Lucic apologized Saturday morning for the fine-warranting gesture he made at Canadiens fans Thursday night.
Lucic made the obscene gesture as he entered the penalty box with 1:20 to play in the Bruins’ eventual 6-4 loss to the Canadiens. He argued with a referee after the Habs added a power play empty-netter, which earned him a game misconduct. He did not speak to the media after the game and was fined $5,000 for the gesture on Friday.
“I’m not proud of what I did there. I just want to apologize to our organization for embarrassing the Bruins organization,” Lucic told reporters Saturday morning in Buffalo.
“I also want to apologize to our fans and also apologize to the Montreal Canadiens organization and the Canadiens fans,” he added. “I know they can get under your skin sometimes but they are great fans. I apologize for my actions. I regret what I did.”
Lucic had a pair of assists in Thursday’s game, which were his first two points of the season. According to ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald, Simon Gagne skated on Lucic’s line with David Krejci in Saturday’s morning skate after finishing the last two games in that spot. Gagne scored late in Thursday’s game while playing with the duo.
Matt Fraser reportedly skated on the fourth line with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell. Such a move is interesting, as Paille played right wing Thursday when Gagne was on the line. Perhaps that was preparation for Fraser, far more effective on the left wing than on the right, to return to the lineup in the position he plays best.
|Milan Lucic fined $5K for obscene gesture toward Canadiens fans||10.17.14 at 11:57 am ET|
Milan Lucic lost his cool Thursday night, and now he’ll pay the price: $5,000.
The Bruins forward made an obscene gesture toward Montreal fans after being sent to the penalty box for boarding with 80 seconds to play and the B’s trailing by a goal.
After the Canadiens scored an empty-net goal for a 6-4 lead that would stand as the final score, Lucic proceeded to get thrown out of the game for confronting an official on his way to the bench from the box.
The league announced its decision Friday morning. The money will go to the Players’ Emergency Fund.
|Video: Milan Lucic makes obscene gesture at Canadiens fans||at 12:27 am ET|
MONTREAL — Milan Lucic did nothing to improve his relationship with the Canadiens and their fans Thursday night.
Lucic, who surpassed Zdeno Chara as Boston Enemy No. 1 last season with a spearing incident with Alexei Emelin (after which he called Emelin a “chicken”) and some choice words in the post-Game 7 handshake line (after which he called Dale Weise a “baby”), took a late boarding penalty Thursday due to a hit he put on Emelin with less than a minute and a half to play.
As he entered the penalty box to massive boos from the crowd, Lucic made an obscene gesture with his glove near his pants (there’s really no way to word it) before doing what looked like a mock Stanley Cup raise. After P.A. Parenteau sealed the game with an empty netter for Montreal, Lucic was given a game misconduct for yelling at an official as he exited the penalty box.
Lucic had reason to be angry with the situation as he was penalized. The Bruins were down a goal in the final minutes and Emelin was crazy to turn in the boards the way that he did when Lucic was coming in to hit him, but the gestures should earn him supplemental discipline. Such gestures, including a similar one from James Wisniewski in 2010, have been suspendable in the past.
Lucic was not available to the media after the game. The Bruins would not specify whether Lucic had declined to talk or whether it was the team’s decision.
|Dale Weise says he didn’t lose respect for Milan Lucic, but would have if he shook his hand||10.16.14 at 12:04 pm ET|
BROSSARD, Quebec – The handshake line plot thickens.
On Thursday morning, the Canadiens downplayed the significance of their upcoming grudge match with the Bruins, which will serve as the teams’ first regular-season meeting since the second round of last season ended with a Canadiens win and plenty of unused hatred.
Dale Weise was a big part of that. He scored the first goal of Game 7 as the Habs took a 3-1 win to advance to play the Rangers. After that game, he told reporters that Lucic “had a few things to say to a couple of guys” in the handshake line, essentially directing folks to the tape, where one could see that Lucic told Weise he was going to “[expletive] kill” him the next time they played. He noted that Shawn Thornton took the loss with class and called Lucic’s actions “a poor way to lose.” Lucic responded by calling Weise a baby.
On Thursday, Weise had nothing bad to say about Lucic, calling him “a hard guy to play against.” Asked if he had lost any respect for Lucic the season before, Weise gave an interesting answer.
“No, no. He’s an emotional guy,” Weise said. “If he were to have shook my hand and been happy about losing, I would have lost respect for him.”
Weise has been a healthy scratch in one of the Habs’ four games thus far, and neither he nor coach Michel Therrien would say whether he was in the lineup for Montreal’s home opener against Boston.
If he does play, such a setting could be familiar for Weise. Though he was not a member of the 2010-11 Canucks (he spent that season in the Rangers organization), Weise was on the Canucks the next season and was a big part of the Bruins-Canucks grudge match in January 2012. Weise says that though there is “similar hatred” between the B’s and Habs after last postseason, he doesn’t expect as crazy a game as that 2012 contest.
“I think both teams are trying to get wins here. It’s early in the season. Last year’s kind of forgotten about,” Weise said. “Both teams are focusing on this year. They’re probably not happy with the start they got off to. They got a big win last night so they’re going to try to keep that going tonight.”
|Jarome Iginla ‘understands’ why Bruins couldn’t bring him back: ‘There are cap issues’||10.13.14 at 7:39 pm ET|
Jarome Iginla holds no grudges against the Bruins. As a matter of fact, he said after Monday’s 2-1 win over his former employer that he’s grateful for the one year he spent in Boston.
“It was definitely a little bit different,” said Iginla, who had no shots or assists in 17 minutes and 20 shifts. “I had one of the best [years] of my career, one of the most exciting years last year, one of favorite years, the whole experience coming to this. I made some good friends that are on their side playing with the team, and we had a very good team. So it was a little different, for sure. It hasn’t been too long, it feels almost like you’ve just been gone for a long vacation, but it’s part of the game.
“Coming from the other side, once the game starts, it’s business. We were looking for our first win, and we knew they were trying to get things going for themselves. But it’s a bit different on the ice. You wouldn’t want to play all the time against that team, but it’s a great place and it’s fun to come back.”
After 30 goals and 31 assists in 78 games on Boston’s top line, Iginla left Boston for Denver and signed a three-year, $16 million deal with the Avalanche. On Monday, he acknowledged the real economics the Bruins were facing.
“Well, I understand it,” Iginla said. “I was hoping at the time, before free agency opened, that it could work out, but you know there are cap issues. With my family, we wanted to be able to make sure, I’m going to play more than one year, and I didn’t want to just play one year then next year [the Bruins] have even less [cap] room. With all the good, young guys they have coming up, they’ve got to keep room for them and keep signing them.
“It’s a good problem to have, though, if you’re the Bruins. But I understood why and figured if I was going to move my family, it would be the time now, before they keep getting more entrenched in school and liking it even more, and then trying to move the following year. I’ve got a great opportunity in Colorado. I’m excited to be here, and it’s a good, young, fun team. But like I said, before that with the Bruins, it was one of the best experiences of my career. I understand why, and like I said, their young guys played, [Torey] Krug, Dougie Hamilton, [Reilly] Smith, they played great. You’ve got to have room for them, Looch, the list goes on. So I understand.”
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